Thursday, March 8, 2007

Ranking The Great Centers

ESPN's Daily Dime has listed the greatest centers one through ten.
  1. Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Chamberlain
  3. Russel
  4. O'Neal
  5. Olajuwon
  6. Malone
  7. Walton
  8. Robinson
  9. Mikan
  10. Ewing.
I don't have a big problem with this list, despite the notable absence of Dave Corzine.

The Sports Guy disputes the merits of a list like this. I tend to agree with his argument that it is a vague question, with no answer. Does it mean career? How do you adjust for the era a center played in? Is it, which center are you taking to win one game? At the same time, that stance isn't much fun.

Pacifist Viking supports the choice of Kareem at #1, but calls attention to some serious rebounding stats Chamberlain had.

For my money, I'm taking "The Dream."

I'm not a stat freak, but some (not really "real" stats anyway) I will highlight are: Aside from Jordan, Olajuwon is the only player to win Defensive Player of the Year and MVP, in the same season. He also won Finals MVP, the only player to ever win all three in one season. He is the only center on this list, (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong) to beat three other centers (O'Neal, Robinson, and Ewing) on this list, in meaningful championship match-ups.

After Jordan's first retirement, Olajuwon filled the gap and became THE must watch player. For the seasons of 93-94 & 94-95, he was as unstoppable as any player I ever watched. His abusive treatment of Robinson, in the 94-95 Finals, is one the great moments in sports when one player separates themselves from their contemporaries.

Olajuwon was a master artist creating a masterpiece. Second place wasn't that close.

Usually people take for granted, that if Jordan had not retired, the Bulls would have won eight titles. This Bulls fan was never so certain.

(Additionally, True Hoop has a pretty good debate going in his comment's, and with The Sport's Guy on this subject. Thanks for the linkage, Pacifist Viking!))


Anonymous said...

I thought Malone was a pure PF. And one of the best at that.
It's hard to rank players like that, they just keep adding up. In our generation, I'm taking Hakeem as well. I loved those Rockets team and still have the drexler jersey to prove it.

Phil said...

That's Moses Malone.

Johnny Yen said...

Hey, where's Tom Boerwinkle on that list?

Anonymous said...

great argument. i'm sure that fans from the 50's/60's would argue vehemently that russell was the center of all time (having used and abused wilt so many times, oh and all the championships, not to mention the one as player/coach)but i too like the dream. or will perdue. toss up.

Anonymous said...

Interesting argument on Hakeem. My only comment would be that O'Neil was just a tyke, Robinson didn't have near the supporting cast, and Ewing is probably overated even at number 10. Hakeem was pretty incredible though.

One thing to consider, Russell was also player/coach. What are the chances of that ever happening again? It boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

FYI - Shaq Vs. Olajuwon head to head stats.

Reg. season (head-to-head)
O'Neal: 22.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG Olajuwon: 18.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG

Postseason (head-to-head)
O'Neal: 28.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG Olajuwon: 23.0 PPG, 9.4 RPG

Shaq also averaged a better FG% and had more assists (not even close on this), but Hakeem is definitely a better shot blocker.

Sure Hakeem won a head to head championship, but the supporting casts weren't even close. The Rockets had insane guard play on those teams, and over the course of their respective careers Shaq won twice as many championships as Hakeem.

Phil said...

Anonymous - I think a good arguement (like yours) can be made for most of the centers on this list to be #1, especially Shaq.

Statistically (and championship-wise), Shaq has had the better career than Hakeem. Though, the league has had fewer dominant centers during his career.

As far as supporting cast goes. The Rockets weren't all that great. In 94-95, their regular season record was 47-35. The Spurs were 62-20. The Magic were 57-25. With out getting into each teams starting five's stats, I think that's a good indication that the teams were at least equally matched, if not more talented then the Rockets.

When I picked Hakeem, I was going with the best center I saw at his best. The whole, "If-I-Had-To-Win-One-Game" selection process. I'd take the 94-95 Hakeem.

Dave said...

I agree about the Ewing comment.

Anonymous said...

One notable exception from this list, Cleveland center Scot Pollard.

Case in point:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Cleveland Cavaliers center Scot Pollard looked into the camera during a recent game and said, "Hey kids, do drugs."

Pollard was sitting on the bench in street clothes when he made the remark during a 20-second timeout Sunday against Indiana. The Cavaliers didn't find it funny.